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Armchair GM: Steelers 2018 Draft Analysis and Grades

May 1, 2018
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Armchair GM: Steelers 2018 Draft Analysis and Grades

I’ll start with a prediction, the Steelers will be calling Lawrence Timmons before Training Camp is ended, probably Sean Spence, too. All the Blue Chip Inside Linebackers were gone by the time the Steelers drafted. That fact and the Martavis Bryant trade dictated the first two picks.

The Steelers 2018 Draft.

Overall, the Steelers had a good Draft. The 1st Round was a real head scratcher though, as the Steelers passed over higher rated players to pick a Free Safety who most had given a 3rd Round draft grade. The 2nd Round went a little better with the Steelers selecting a Slot Receiver who should be able to fill Martavis Bryant’s roster spot while Juju Smith-Schuster kicks outside. Then they made the selection of the Draft, trading up to get the pick that could be the Quarterback of the future. Round Three ended with another big question mark as the Steelers took on a project Offensive Lineman. The Steelers had no 4th Rd pick having swapped it for a 5th Rounder with the 49ers for Vance McDonald. With that pick they took a Strong Safety who should become Morgan Burnett’s backup. Their second 5th Round pick garnered a versatile offensive weapon who is bound to make Big Ben and Randy Fichtner happy. They ended the Draft with a big, athletic Nose Tackle to challenge Big Dan McCullers.

Round One: Terrell Edmunds, Free Safety – Grade: C

This pick addresses a need so it saves it from getting a horrible grade but the Steelers had many better players to choose from. It also muddies the waters of whether or not the Steelers are thinking about moving Sean Davis to Free Safety. I really don’t think they would’ve brought in Morgan Burnett and kept Davis at the same spot to be his backup. If Davis moves to Free Safety there’s no guarantee Edmunds will beat him out for the starting job. You really don’t want to have a 1st Round pick riding the pine… EVER. So, color me confused.

Colbert/Tomlin will go down as the ‘Secondary Reach’ duo. Terrell Edmunds appears to give the Steelers nothing they don’t already have with Sean Davis. Other than size, they are almost exactly the same player. Both athletic, hard hitters who are not very good in pass coverage. It really makes me think they’ve given up on Davis.

Nobody projected Edmunds sooner than the 3rd Rd. So, now the Steelers have a 1st Rd CB who performs like a 2nd Rounder (Burns), a 2nd Rd SS who performs like a 3rd Rounder (Davis) who will be joined by a 1st Rd FS who should perform like a 3rd Rounder. The Steelers should’ve traded down to the 2nd Rd and picked up a 4th Rounder, or so. This guy would’ve still been available in the 2nd Rd and if he wasn’t it would’ve been no big deal. Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison is a comparable player most people liked better than Edmunds and he didn’t go until the 3rd Round.

Edmunds biggest season production wise came in his Sophomore year when he was playing Outside Linebacker, so that’s another question mark. Edmunds declared early and he really could’ve used a little more time at Safety, so he will have to do that development with the Steelers.

Watch this film and you’ll see what I mean. The Steelers have access to tons more film than I do but what I’ve seen isn’t inspiring. That said Edmunds has the bloodline and athleticism so maybe he’ll surprise us!!!

I’m grading the picks here, for Edmunds’ scouting info click on this link from NFL.com: https://www.nfl.com/prospects/terrell-edmunds?id=32462018-0002-5601-25af-a59d7c8988a5

Round Two – James Washington, WR – Grade: B

The Steelers were really high on Washington and they had traded Martavis Bryant so this pick was no surprise. Washington was one half of one of the most dynamic QB/WR combos in college and they will be reunited on the Steelers. He is a long legged, long strider who surprises DBs with his buildup speed. He has long arms and is good at high-pointing the ball. His route running needs some work but he will be learning from one the best of all-time in Antonio Brown, everyday. He seems to know how much hand checking he can get away with when working to create space in press coverage. His hands and concentration  look very good. He’s a natural ball tracker and caught many rainbows and back shoulder fades from Mason Rudolph. He’s not a proven blocker and that’s a big thing with the Steelers. A track star, Washington can stretch the field and had 20 yard per catch average on his career. Washington should step into the starting Slot Receiver spot as Juju moves outside.

James Washington scouting info: https://www.nfl.com/prospects/james-washington?id=32462018-0002-5599-27dc-5f82fa873706

Round Three – Mason Rudolph, QB – Grade: A+

The Martavis Bryant trade may be historic. For reasons on unbeknownst to me Oklahoma St. star QB, Mason Rudolph, was still available in the 3rd Rd. I’ve had Rudolph in almost all my mocks as a 1st Round talent and I’ve read the Steelers had the same grade on him. I rated him above Josh Allen and that poor bastard, Baker Mayfield. Mayock likes his long passing but I’m more impressed with his work from 30 yards in on the ‘money passes’. Rudolph has some rough edges that will need to be addressed but he will have Randy Fitchner coaching him up and be learning from one of the all-time greats at the position. He should be ready to go when Ben retires when his contract is up in a couple years. He and his once and future teammate James Washington should be a dynamic duo for years to come.

For my in depth analysis on Mason Rudolph click here: http://www.pittsburgh-blitz.com/armchair-gm-top-five-2018-draft-steelers-qb-candidates-3-mason-rudolph/

Round Three – Chuks Okofor, OT – Grade: D-

I really didn’t get this, at all. This has got to be Coach Munchak’s ‘project’ pick. The Steelers have two solid starting Offensive Tackles who still have plenty of tread on their tires. Why would you draft a project O-lineman so high when ILB Josey Jewell was still on the boards? A Running Back, Tight End or Inside Linebacker would’ve made a lot more sense.

Yes, he’s athletic with good feet and mirroring in pass protection. He’s also good taking his man head on in the run game but strong edge rushers with disruptive hands can have their way with him. If he doesn’t have a clear player to latch onto he can get lost in run blocking. I would be scared to death to put this guy in a game for any length of time his first season, maybe even his second. We can’t stash him on our Practice Squad because the Jets, Cardinals and Titans live to poach our developmental players. Maybe Coach Munchak can wave his magic coaching wand and turn this guy into an All Pro, in the meantime he will be taking up a roster spot that could be filled by a seasoned Sub. Watch this video of T.J. Watt handing Okofor his ass.

Chuk Okofor scouting info: https://www.nfl.com/prospects/chuks-okorafor?id=32462018-0002-5598-6097-6a0cb1996550

Round Five – Marcus Allen, Strong Safety – Grade: B

This is almost certainly new Defensive Backs coach, Tom Bradley’s pick. He just got done coaching this guy at Penn. St. This pick further muddies the water of what’s happening at the Safety position. Are Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds going to fight it out for the Free Safety spot? Is Marcus Allen going to be Morgan Burnett’s sub and push J.J. Wilcox off the roster? Is Marcus Allen just here to be the new Dime Linebacker? He’s certainly big enough.

I’ve got to think the Steelers believe they can use Cam Sutton as the Nickel/Free Safety type and Brian Allen as the big Tight End coverage guy. Again the Steelers pick a player that is like Sean Davis, just a little bigger. So, who knows?. Competition is competition and Allen was a good value pick at this point. He’ll provide another physical presence in the Secondary and should be good around the line of scrimmage and on Special Teams. Wisconsin’s ILB, Jack Cichy might’ve been a better pick.

Here’s Allen’s scouting report: https://www.nfl.com/prospects/marcus-allen?id=32462018-0002-5599-41f8-066a128fa16f

Round Five – Jaylen Samuels, RB/WR/TE/FB – Grade: A

Since I mocked Samuels to Steelers I’ve just included what I wrote about him, there. The only thing I’ve got to add is O.C. Fitchner has said they’re keeping Samuels as a RB while using as he was used at N.C. State. Seeing as the Steelers usually only carry three RBs and are making him earn his roster spot based on his performance there, it will make his chances of sticking tougher.

Called the ‘Human Swiss Army Knife’ at N.C. State, Samuels is a versatile player who can be a nice offensive weapon in a number of different looks. He could be kept on the roster as a 3rd TE or RB or backup Slot Receiver.

Samuels can stretch the field as a move TE but he figures to be of most value in short yardage situations where his versatility could give Randy Fichtner a lot of options. Proven as a runner and receiver, Samuels still needs to show he’s a blocker. If he does that, he can and lock down a spot as Fullback. He should be a Special Teams asset as a Gunner and lead blocker. Samuels should bring some of the scheme versatility the Steelers will lose when Bell walks next year for his unreasonably large paycheck.

As a Junior Samuels had 55 catches for 565 yards at 10.3 ypc with 7 TDs. He had 33 rushes for 189 yard and 5.7 yard average with 6 TDs. In 2018 he had 76 catches for 597 yards, 7.9 ypc and 4 TDs, as well as 77 rushes for 403 yards, 5.2 ypr and 12 TDs.

Samuel’s NFL. com scouting report: https://www.nfl.com/prospects/jaylen-samuels?id=32462018-0002-5599-3042-1fab298cb54e

Round Seven – Joshua Frazier, Nose Tackle – Grade: A

Frazier was a 5 Star recruit coming out of High School. He started in his Freshman year, got injured and then got stuck behind a procession of 1st Rd draft picks. The very little film available on him shows an athletic, run stuffer with disruptive hands who can stack and shed blockers. He can push blockers off their base and draw double teams. I’m sure if he had left Alabama he would’ve been starting somewhere else. The Steelers have two great sub Defensive Ends in L.T. Walton and Tyson Alualu. Daniel McCullers hasn’t developed at NT. Joshua Frazier is here to take his job and he probably will. The other good thing about Frazier is he’s used to being a sub so if he does good he won’t be as prone to jump ship.

The Frazier scouting report is here: https://www.nfl.com/prospects/joshua-frazier?id=32462018-0002-5601-4414-b923e4e052f4

The Final Grade

If you switch the Terrell Edmunds and Mason Rudolph picks this would be a Grade ‘A’ Draft. Since there was a slap dash feel to all of it instead of a controlled filling or needs and seeking of value it gets gigged a half a point. You can look at this Draft and almost see which coach picked which player, especially Okafor (Munchak’s) and Allen (Bradley’s). It’s really better to have a top down, big picture approach and if some position coaches get their feelings hurt, so be it. Also reaching for a project OT while there were still some good ILBs on the board makes them take a knock. Overall, the Draft added five players who should make the team and be contributing in their first year and a future starter at QB (which is a very big deal), so that is a successful Draft.

Given the above and considering the Draft isn’t there to fill all the team’s needs, that the Steelers may have found the QB of the future AND Lawrence Timmons is still a phone call away from taking care of our Inside Linebacker needs, my grade is as follows:

Steelers 2018 Draft: Overall Grade: B+

Go Steelers!!!

Jeffrey Burton

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One Comment

  1. I have an inside scoop from one of the VT assistant defensive coaches that Edmund’s is going to be a beast. That he has great instincts, ball and cover skills.

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